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   Your Stories > Stories of interest > Disability Rights an
Disability Rights and Wrongs
Disability Rights and Wrongs

Over the last thirty years, the field of disability studies has emerged from the political activism of disabled people. In this challenging review of the field, leading disability academic and activist Tom Shakespeare argues that the social model theory has reached a dead end.

Drawing on a critical realist perspective, Shakespeare promotes a pluralist, engaged and nuanced approach to disability. Key topics discussed include:

Dichotomies - the dangerous polarizations of medical model versus social model, impairment versus disability and disabled people versus non-disabled people

Identity - the drawbacks of the disability movement's emphasis on identity politics

Bioethics in disability - choices at the beginning and end of life and in the field of genetic and stem cell therapies

Care and social relationships - questions of intimacy and friendship.

This stimulating and accessible book challenges orthodoxies in British disability studies, promoting a new conceptualisation of disability and fresh research agenda. It is an invaluable resource for researchers and students in disability studies and sociology, as well as professionals, policy makers and activists.


'Tom Shakespeare has produced a work of mature scholarship that advances our thinking about the fundamental issues in Disability Studies. The clarity and balance of his argument challenges others to raise the level of discourse in the field. Disability Rights and Wrongs is a must read.' - Gary L. Albrecht, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

'In his characteristically polemical and thought-provoking style, Tom Shakespeare presents a call to arms against the British social model of disability. Love it or loathe it, there is much in this book to stimulate debate in disability studies and the wider social science community. The reader is taken into familiar territory as well as into areas little explored in disability studies to date. Challenges are thrown up at every turn. Do Shakespeare's arguments hold up? You be the judge.' - Carol Thomas, Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University, UK

'Galileo was roundly condemned for daring to question the orthodoxy of the day, even though he was right. Tom Shakespeare also challenges orthodoxy concerning disability theory and studies. No cow is sacred and as a result this book will be controversial. But his arguments demand consideration and deep thought. If you read only one book on disability rights this year, make this the book.' - Bert Massie, Disability Rights Commission, UK

'This thought-provoking and interesting book challenges conventional views in relation to disability studies...a valuable resource to students of disability studies, practitioners as well as other professionals who work with disabled people.' - Angela Clarke, Therapy Today

About the Author

Tom Shakespeare has taught and researched sociology at the Universities of Cambridge, Sunderland, Leeds and Newcastle. He has written and broadcast extensively about disability and genetics, and his co-authored books include The Sexual Politics of Disability, Exploring Disability and Genetic Politics.

Reviews ..

Just what I needed to read
As someone who is still coming to terms with the impact of my disability on my life and learning about the politics of disability I found this book excellent - informative, thought-provoking and helpful. I have always had problems in accepting the social model of disability as a fully comprehensive model of disability that I can relate to and see as applicable to me.

Obviously the social model explains and describes an enormous amount of the reality of being disabled in/by our society. However, it ignores/minimises the reality of physical impairment on people's lives. Shakespeare puts into words exactly what I have been feeling about this. As such I found it an immensely validating read.

It is also very readable - well written and cogently argued.

Highly recommend it to anyone who is disabled or involved in/with disability - family/friends/carers/academics/health and social care workers. In addition, many politicians would benefit from reading it and thinking about what it says.
Tom Shakespeare
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